Found Frame Part One: A New Classic

A while back I found this picture sitting next to a neighbour’s recycling bin on one of my early-morning dog walks. I picked it up because the frame itself was HUGE and made of solid wood (it weighed a TON) and I thought it would make a great frame for a nice mirror some time. But that will be a matter of finding a mirror to fit the frame, so that’s a post for another day. After staring at it for a while, I kind of started to like the picture that was in the frame, as well. There’s a rural Canadiana vibe to it that appeals to me.

Found Frame Part 1 1

And this wouldn’t be the first mystery painting my family has picked up and invented a story about. Unfortunately any identifying cards on the back have long since fallen off, but we have this signature to go on.

Found Frame Part 1 5

The frame for the canvas itself had come apart and so the picture was damaged in the corner, but it was nothing I couldn’t fix myself. You can’t really screw up a painting that you found in the garbage, right?

Found Frame Part 1 3

So I loosened the nails and popped the canvas out of the frame. The frame itself will wait for another day.

Found Frame Part 1 6

You can see that the stretchers have come apart here (you can also see where some sort of card was taped to the inside of the canvas, probably detailing who the artist was or information about the scene painted). The wood has also warped a bit so I suspect this is an older injury.

Found Frame Part 1 7

I did some cack-handed hammering and got a bit overzealous with the staple gun, but the frame held together after a while.

Found Frame Part 1 11

Of course the picture itself was FILTHY. I mean I found it in the garbage. Also any painting sitting around someone’s house for any length of time is going to be covered with all sorts of grease and ick. It’s just a fact. Now if this was something done in oils or it was worth anything, I would not have dreamed of touching it. I would have taken it to a professional and they would have cleaned it with spit (literally, I’m not joking) and gotten it all up to snuff.

Found Frame Part 1 12

But this was an acrylic painting of an unknown vintage by an unknown painter. And I found it in the garbage. So I used some Method all-purpose cleaner to get the first layer of grease off. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU PAID MONEY FOR YOUR PICTURE.

Found Frame Part 1 13

I was hoping to remove the yellow stains on the paint itself, but then I started to realize that the painter actually meant for those to be there.

Found Frame Part 1 14

This other greasy goo on the other hand was better off left on my cleaning cloth. I know: GROSS.

Found Frame Part 1 15

I also deduced at one point that someone had wrapped this painting in newspaper, as this appeared after a bit of cleaning:

Found Frame Part 1 16

I also decided to try to lighten some of the age yellowing with some lemon juice, and I think it helped a bit.

Found Frame Part 1 17

The nice solid frame had an extra frame piece nailed to its innards and rather than build/find a new frame for my brand new free piece of art I decided to pop it out of its moorings and use it.

Found Frame Part 1 18

It was only held in place with a few finishing nails after all, which were easy enough to remove.

Found Frame Part 1 20

It did need a good cleaning and sanding, however.

Found Frame Part 1 21

After that, I painted it. I decided to go with a blue frame to complement the blue in the mountains in the background and also to counteract some of the yellowing in the picture itself.

Found Frame Part 1 22

I used some small nails to wedge the canvas back into the smaller frame.

Found Frame Part 1 25

And I attached hanging hardware to the canvas stretchers, as they stuck out farther than the frame insert.

Found Frame Part 1 26

Then I hung it. I am quite fond of it at this point, and it fills a lovely spot in my basement that gets a lot of light in the afternoons.

Found Frame Part 1 28
You have to look pretty closely to see that this was the damaged corner.

 

I would normally not hang anything of value in this spot because it would fade in the sun but this was free, so I’m not concerned what happens to it.

Found Frame Part 1 27

Oddities in String Art: Arr, Sweet Arr, and the Howling Wolf

String Art 27

Okay so I’m definitely behind the trend on this one, but it looks like so much fun that I had to try it out.  When I asked Stef what he and the Stone would like me to make for them for Christmas, he suggested some form of decoration for their home.  And as Stef is my favourite pirate, I made him a skull and crossbones. For a little bit of contrast I used gray crochet thread on the crossbones part, so you could differentiate it from the rest of the skull.  Then I thought it would be cute to add a cross-stitched platitude to the bottom in a nice bright red.  Instead of Home Sweet Home, I thought that “Arr, Sweet Arr” would be more apropos.

String Art 28

String Art 25

These beautiful copper carpet tacks belonged to my great-grandfather (who never threw anything away) and they look fantastic against the wood.  You can use any kind of nail you like, provided it has a decent-sized head.

String Art 6

For the People Downstairs, whose last name is lupine-related, I made a slightly cheesy wolf howling at the moon.  To get the template, I simply drew a large circle and then freehanded the wolf silhouette.  It took a couple tries, because I am not the artist my mother is, but it ain’t bad. It only kind of looks like a corgi.  But that’s cool too.  I used a more delicate white thread to pick up the slightly more elaborate pattern.

String Art 29

String Art 26

Because of my latent inability to cut anything in a straight line, the Pie was kind enough to do the sawing for me, as I had to cut this piece of craft board (which I bought from Kent) into smaller pieces.  The wolf piece is 12″ x 12″, and the pirate piece is 12″ x 16″.

String Art 1

Spray paint the boards the colour of your choice.  Black is a good go-to background.

String Art 2

You can see how there’s a mottled texture to my paint — I ran out of one can of spray paint partway through, and like a good little soldier I sat there and drained all the air out of the can so it could be properly disposed of.  Because it was occasionally spitting paint at me while doing this, I figured I’d do it while pointing it at my painted surface.  And thus the weird texture.  But I’m going to roll with it. It adds character.

String Art 3

While that is drying, work on your design.  On a piece of paper, sketch out the outline of the shape you want.  Mine are obviously pretty simplistic, due to my lack of artistic skill (I’m the only one in the family who can’t draw, go figure), but you don’t want to get too complicated when it comes to string. Basic and slightly embellished shapes are probably your best bet.

String Art 4

Temporarily tape the design to your board, and carefully hammer in nails along the lines you’ve drawn, spacing them out evenly.  My board is only 1/4″ thick so I had to be careful not to hammer them in too far.

String Art 7

I found a pair of pliers kept me from hitting my fingers.

String Art 11

Once you’ve got all the nails in you can rip off and recycle the paper.

String Art 14

String Art 16

Now, with your thread or wool or string or whatever you’re using, tie a knot around one of the nails and start weaving the thread around the nails, back and forth across the space you want to fill.  Don’t worry too much about a pattern (unless that’s what you’re going for).  Stop when you’ve filled it as much as you want to.  It’s a pretty fluid thing.

String Art 18

String Art 20

String Art 22

And there you have it.  I screwed hanging hardware into the back and that is that.

String Art 23

String Art 24

Wattle Fencing

Gren pees on my peonies.  It’s annoying.  He also gets his lead tangled around some of my more delicate plants, and he’s already dug up and eaten an entire lupin.  I needs me a fence.

When Doodle and I were last in Ferryland, we saw these lovely wattle fences surrounding the 17th century kitchen gardens.  This ancient style of building was very popular in rural areas, like most of Newfoundland, where scraggly vegetation was everywhere and iron nails were at a premium.  Settlers clearing areas of land for their houses and farms could easily re-use the saplings and brush they removed in making strong wattle fences to keep their livestock and gardens separate.

Photo by Doodle

I showed pictures of wattle construction to Cait, extolling the virtues of its sturdiness and simplicity — just sticks!  Cait then raised the counterpoint to me that the little pig who built his house out of sticks didn’t fare particularly well against the big bad wolf.  I rebutted by saying that if you saw the illustrated pictures in the books you could CLEARLY see the pig did not use the wattle method and his shoddy construction was at fault.  Cait then informed me that I was the Mike Holmes of fairy tales (which is only funny if you know who Mike Holmes is).  I take that as a great compliment.

You can use any flexible sapling for your weave, the longer and straighter it is the better.  We used mostly maple, as there are no shortage of those around.  In fact, there is a vacant lot about half a block from our house that has recently been sold to a developer for condominium building.  We figured that the property was going to be razed anyway — who would miss a bunch of scraggly teenaged trees?  Still, we did feel like we were trespassing, no more so than when an unmarked police car pulled up to us.  It turns out the officer was just there to get some paperwork done, but for a moment we thought we were going to get in big trouble.

Use pruning shears and a pruning saw to cut your saplings and remove any smaller branches and leaves.  Make sure to use the branches relatively soon after you cut them so that they maintain their flexibility.

Now I’m not making a particularly tall fence here, nor is my weave going to be all that tight.  I just want to use it as a barrier to keep out small dogs and children, but I still want to be able to see the plants that are behind it.

All the information I found about these fences told me that I would need wayyyyy more branches to do it than I even thought of.  I probably used a hundred or so sticks for a fence 12.5m long and 30cm high.

First I needed stakes.   I sawed off the thickest 50cm at the bottom of each sapling, cutting it at an angle to make a sharp edge.   I ended up with 25 stakes for my 12.5m garden bed.

Using a stout hammer (you can use a mallet as well), I pounded in the stakes, spaced about 50cm apart, as far in as they would go, which was about 20cm in most cases.  If you have one or two that hit rocks or aren’t as firmly embedded as the rest, don’t fret.  The more you add to the fence, the stronger it will get, and the more-stuck stakes will help to hold the less-stuck stakes into place.

Once you’ve got the stakes hammered in, you can start to add the saplings.

Start at one end of your fence with the thicker part of a sapling, and weave the sapling between the stakes until you reach the end.

Repeat with more saplings until you get to the end of the row.

Reverse the direction of the saplings for the next row, so that the thick and thin ends alternate, and make sure to work the saplings around the opposite side of the stake than you used in the previous row.  Use a hammer or mallet to wedge the saplings closer together if you want a tight weave.

Keep going and going.  And going.

Until your fence is as high and tight as you want it to be.

I used smaller branches to help hold in some of the more recalcitrant sapling ends.

But of course I ran out of sticks.  So I’m not finished yet,  and it will be a while before I can get the Pie to help me steal saplings again.  I’ll post a picture when I finally do finish, though.

For more information on wattle fencing, you can check out these links here:

Allotment Forestry

Heritage Foundation

I Can Garden